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Sunday, April 10, 2011
The Mommyheads - Flying Suit (1994) & Finest Specimens (2010) - a brief evluation
During their tenure in the mid 90s, The Mommyheads moniker popped up in a variety of places - compilations, fanzine reviews, and even concert handbills from far away places. Despite the fact that this San Fran by way of New York crew intermittently made it onto my radar throughout the Clinton-era, our paths never really crossed, that is until the internets made life a lot more convenient. Acquainting myself with many of the artists on this blog has been a retroactive endeavor, and the Mommyheads are a case in point. In fact, around the time I finally started investigating them, I caught wind of the news that two CDs had hit the market, the Finest Specimens career retrospective, and a reissue of their 1994 fan-favorite album, Flying Suit.
Generally speaking, any given Mommyhead's song isn't inordinately complex, though the decades-spanning Finest Specimens is a challenging collection to dissect, and somewhat pointless to categorize. Two concurrent threads that stitch Specimen's 21 songs together are the 'Heads penchant for lucid, uncluttered performances and for the most part, conciseness. Early artifacts (circa 1989) like "Cactus Farm" and "Gravity" show off a jazzy dexterity hinting at the rhythmic aplomb of SST-era Meat Puppets. A plusher pop awareness would begin to gestate on 1992's Coming Into Beauty LP, represented here by the whimsical "Like a Brick," and "Wedding Day's sonic mosaic of multi-tracked vocals. It's unclear as to whether the Mommyhead's had serious ambitions of concocting a full blown pop record, but the aforementioned Flying Suit comes close enough, possessing tight, hook-laden and mildly askew gems like "Worm," "Sandman," and "Bottom Out," that weren't too dissimilar to what the Shins and the Sugarplastic had waiting in the wings for us in the coming years. The reissue of Flying Suit comes tricked out with three bonus cuts, providing exactly 37.5% bonus content.
The Mommyheads went a stretch without recording after 1995's Bingham's Hole, but returned in 2008 with You're Not a Dream. Finest Specimens features a handful of selections from that platter, and even digs into the well for some live recordings from a variety of eras. Check out the Mommyheads over at Dromedary Records where you can purchase both albums, digitally or otherwise.